American Expatriates Cling to Cuba’s Socialist Ideals

May 19, 2002
HAVANA — The wall of windows at Lorna Burdsall’s seventh-floor apartment overlooks a bay ringed by trash. The vintage red elevator, installed before Fidel Castro seized power, is decrepit.

Still, the American widow of “Red Beard”–the socialist revolutionary who went on to become Cuba’s top intelligence chief–says her 47 years in the Caribbean country have given her few complaints.

“The heat is one of the few things that I haven’t gotten used to in Cuba,” says Burdsall, 73, apologizing for not hearing the doorbell at first because she had retreated to her air-conditioned bedroom.

Burdsall, who moved to Cuba from New York in 1955, is one of more than a dozen Americans who call this communist island home, still clinging to the ideals of a socialist revolution as capitalism expands its hold around the globe. Read more >>

Ex-CIA Agent Pitches Cuba As Cure

November 18, 2001
HAVANA (AP) – “Stressed Out from the World Crisis?” says the Web page, under a picture of an idyllic beach. “Need Relief from Everyday Anxieties? Give Yourself a Break in Cuba, the Safest Country in the World.”

Philip Agee, CIA agent-turned travel promoter, is capitalizing on post-Sept. 11 jitters to lure American tourists to Cuba.

Other travel agencies specializing in U.S. travel to Cuba have also promoted the island’s safety record, but few go as far as to sell it as a refuge from terrorism.

“When I first thought of this promotion I was worried that people might think I was exploiting people’s fears,” Agee said. “But then I thought, this is exactly what Americans need now.”

Agee became famous for his 1975 tell-all book about his years with the CIA, an expose that cost him his passport and eventually landed him in Cuba where he launched his travel agency last year.

He’s 66 now, a small, soft-spoken native of Tampa, Fla. He runs his business out of a fourth-floor apartment in Havana’s palm-fringed Vedado neighborhood. The elevator is often broken and his office is sparse, with only a few pieces of basic furniture. Read more >>